The number of British adults streaming TV programmes or movies reached record highs in 2014, fuelled by enhanced connectivity, technological innovation and increased affordability. Tablets and smartphones have become increasingly commonplace, giving content whenever and wherever we like. A whole generation of children in this country has grown up with no comprehension of video being restricted to TV – they can watch it anywhere, anytime.

But what does this mean for TV as we knew it? Is this part of an ‘inevitable and impending doom for traditional television’? Is the television set redundant? In fact, 87% of our TV viewing is still ‘live’.1BARB, October 2014 (www.barb.co.uk/whats-new/catch-up-and-live-tv-compared?_s=4) Many shows, such as Gogglebox, X Factor and Sherlock have become key viewing ‘events’ for live TV. Viewers tune in live (or near live) to share experiences and to ensure they can contribute to discussions, both online and in real life. During the US premiere of season five of smash hit drama ‘The Walking Dead’ the top ten trending Twitter topics were about the show. Under these circumstances, fans must keep up to avoid being left out, left in the dark, or – even worse – left disappointed by frustrating spoilers (one of our colleagues spent a day avoiding all news outlets, as he had missed the Great British Bake Off the night before!). There is still no better way to do this than through live TV and, while 2014 brought key online successes, Britons were more likely to cite live TV as ‘more of an event’ than they did a year ago in 2013.2TV Nation, Ipsos MediaCT on behalf of Thinkbox, 2013-2014

Television has embraced new forms of technology. Internet connected TVs can now be found in the homes of almost one in five British adults and this figure is growing rapidly.3Ipsos MediaCT Technology Tracker, Q2 2014 (www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/publications/1671/Ipsos-MediaCT-Tech-Tracker-Q2-2014.aspx) This provides unprecedented opportunity for online viewing via the TV set, which remains key to audience engagement with video. Even when viewing video on demand (VOD), the television set continues to be audiences’ preferred device, as the demand for a shared, large screen experience remains strong (even if many of us are looking at smartphones and tablets simultaneously!).

Captivating and inspiring content that people want to seek out and watch, regardless of how and where it is served, is the key to the success of both traditional television and VOD. We know that when people choose content providers, such as Sky, BBC or Netflix, the range and quality of content is by far the most important factor.4Ipsos MediaCT MediaMoments, 2014 This is a point clearly not lost on Netflix, who is reported to have spent circa $400 million on its own exclusive, original content in 2014 – a classic example of distributors becoming content creators, as roles overlap and diversify in a flattened media landscape.

Although commentators often pit them against each other, viewers use traditional television and VOD as complementary and interlinked services that simply fulfil their need for high quality content, when and where it suits them.

The future looks as complex as the present, but one thing is certain: video will continue to be in demand, and TV is far from dead.

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